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Callie is a leading marine conservation biologist and voice for nature who inspires and influences high-impact conservation measures, using collaborative scientific research initiatives, with a focus on marine turtles and ecosystems, to connect indigenous and marginalized communities with government agencies to propose and achieve paramount environmental protections and advancements in the global recognition of the intrinsic Rights of Nature.


Her vision for conducting science for the purposes of conservation impact has led her work to be the basis for conservation proposals and laws in Panama and for her to be invited to speak on behalf of nature, youth, or the ocean at the United Nations and associated conferences five times. She is currently collaborating as an advisor with the governments of Panama and Aruba in the development and implementation of the Rights of Nature in laws and a constitutional amendment and is part of the core team leading the United Nations Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights initiative.


She founded and leads the non-profit research and conservation organization, The Leatherback Project (TLP), where she oversees a team of scientists, local community members, students, and visionaries for the conservation of leatherbacks and other threatened and endangered marine species and their habitat globally through community empowerment, research, and advocacy. Through TLP she has trained thousands of Panamanian Army and Navy soldiers in the recognition of illegal sea turtle products, identified new to science sea turtle nesting and foraging sites, started the long-term monitoring program in one of the largest nesting aggregation of leatherback turtles in the world, proposed a new National Wildlife Refuge in the Gulf of Panama, championed the recognition of the rights of sea turtles in Panama in 2023, and proposed Panama’s Rights of Nature law that was passed in 2022.


Her work has merited several awards and titles such as National Geographic Explorer, 2020 National Geographic Early Career Leader, Scientist with the United Nations Harmony with Nature Programme, Mission Blue Hope Spot Champion, Fellow and United Nations Youth Representative for The Explorers Club, United Nations Development Program Ocean Innovator, and one of the 2023 Ocean Youth Leaders of the year through the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.


Currently Callie is a PhD student in Conservation Biology with the Marine Turtle Research Group at the University of Central Florida, and has previously received her MSc in Biology from Purdue University and her BSc in Marine Biology with a minor in Wildlife Conservation Biology from the University of Rhode Island. She has mentored seven graduate and undergraduate students to date and serves on the advisory board for various international nature conservation organizations.



Veelenturf, C. A., Marino, E. A. (2023). Leucistic and malformed Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) embryos in Pacific Panama. Herpetology Review.

Liang, Dong; Bailey, Helen; Hoover, Aimee; Eckert, Scott; Zarate, Patricia; Alfaro-Shigueto, Joanna; Mangel, Jeffrey; de Paz, Nelly; Davila, Javier; Barturen, David; Rguez-Baron, Juan; Fahy, Christina; Rocafuerte, Amanda; Veelenturf, Callie; Abrego, Marino; Shillinger, George, (2022). Integrating telemetry and point observations to inform management and conservation of migratory marine species. Ecological Applications.

Veelenturf, C. A., Sinclair, E. M., Paladino, F. V., Honarvar, S., (2022). The effects of nest location and beach environment on hatching success for leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Marine Biology.

Veelenturf, C. A., Marino, E. A. (2021). First successful nesting event documentation of Chelonia mydas in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Panama. Herpetology Review.

Veelenturf, C. A., Marino, E. A. (2021). First successful nesting event documentation of Lepidochelys olivacea in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Panama. Herpetology Review.

Chinacalle, N., García, E., López, J., Pinoargote, S., Loor, G., Zevallos, J., Cruz, P., Pablo, D., Andrade, B., Robalino, C., Añazco, S., Guerrero, J., Intriago, A., Veelenturf, C. A., Peñaherrera-Palma, C. (2021). Seasonal and spatial variations in primary productivity and sea surface temperature off the coast of Ecuador. Neotropical Biodiversity.

Veelenturf, C. A., Marino, E. A. (2021). First sighting of Dermochelys coriacea in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Panama. Herpetology Review.

Veelenturf, C. A., Marino, E. A. (2021). First record of Eretmochelys imbricata in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Panama. Herpetology Review.

Veelenturf CA, Sinclair EM, Paladino FV, Honarvar S (2020). Predicting the impacts of sea level rise in sea turtle nesting habitat on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. PLoS ONE 15(7): e0222251. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0222251

Veelenturf, C. A., Peters, S. W. (2020). Size-dependent speed of flight from predators creates a behaviourally mediated size refuge in marine gastropods. Current Zoology.

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